Steve Horwitz (via Facebook) speaks my mind more eloquently than I ever could regarding the Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision. In short, here’s why legalized gay marriage is a good thing for proponents of small government, and even for religious people who don’t endorse homosexual relationships. It’s not the state’s job, anyways!
What follows, then, is that we can and should view this decision in light of whether it promotes a healthier view of marriage — one defined not by legal status, but by private and/or religious convictions — in the long run, without worrying about marriage being “redefined” here and now.
It may well be that the expansion of state-granted marriage rights to same-sex couples, and perhaps to groups of more than two down the road, leads to people being willing to more radically re-think the whole nature of marriage and its relationship with the state. That may have the effect of generating more creative thinking about how a more private institution of marriage might emerge in a world where the state continues to do the things it does. At the same time, libertarians might be better off focusing on figuring out how to offer alternatives to the government programs that are deeply entwined with marital status so that those programs can be eliminated. Such alternatives could reduce the costs of separating marriage from the state.
For example, doing more to promote a libertarian anti-poverty agenda as an alternative to the harmful ways in which the welfare state undermines marriage as an institution, while simultaneously depending on its definition, would perhaps be a better long-run strategy for separating marriage from the state than focusing on that specific goal right now.